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out two years after with an increased ferocity, and almost every leading city of the East was filled by the monks with bloodshed and with outrage." St. Augustine himself is accused of having excited every kind of popular persecution against the Semi-Pelagians. The Councils, animated by an almost frantic hatred, urged on by their anathemas the rival sects.3 In the Robber Council of Ephesus, Flavianus, the Bishop of Constantinople, was kicked and beaten by the Bishop of Alexandria, or at least by his followers, and a few days later died from the effect of the blows. In the contested election that resulted in the election of St. Damasus as Pope of Rome, though no theological question appears to have been at issue, the riots were so fierce that one hundred and thirty-seven corpses were found in one of the churches. The precedent
Milman, Hist. of Latin Chris- attractive than in the Councils of tianity, vol. i. pp. 314-318. the Church. Intrigue, injusDean Milman thus sums up the tice, violence, decisions on authority history: Monks in Alexandria, alone, and that the authority of a monks in Antioch, monks in Jeru- turbulent majority, detract salem, monks in Constantinople, from the reverence and impugn the decide peremptorily on orthodoxy judgments of at least the later and heterodoxy. The bishops Councils. The close is almost inthemselves before them. variably a terrible anathema, in Macedonius in Constantinople, Fla- which it is impossible not to disvianus in Antioch, Elias in Jeru- cern the tones of human hatred, of salem, condemn themselves and arrogant triumph, of rejoicing at abdicate, or are driven from their the damnation imprecated against sees. Persecution is universal- the humiliated adversary.'—Ibid. persecution by every means of vio- vol. i. p. 202. lence and cruelty; the only question
4 See the account of this scene in is, in whose hands is the power to Gibbon, Decline and Fall, ch. xlvii.; persecute. . . . Bloodshed, murder, Milman, Hist. of Latin Christianity, treachery, assassination, even dur- vol. i. p. 263. There is a coning the public worship of God- flict of authorities as to whether these are the frightful means by the Bishop of Alexandria himself which each party strives to main- kicked his adversary, or, to speak tain its opinions and to defeat its more correctly, the act which is adversary
charged against him by some con. 2 See a striking passage from temporary writers is not charged Julianus of Eclana, cited by Mil- against him by others. The vio. man, Hist. of Latin Christianity, lence was certainly done by his vol. i. p. 164.
followers and in his presence. 8. Nowhere is Christianity less 5 Ammianus Marcellinus,xxvii.3
of the Jewish persecutions of idolatry having been adduced by St. Cyprian, in the third century, in favour of excommunication,' was urged by Optatus, in the reign of Constantine, in favour of persecuting the Donatists; 2 in the next reign we find a large body of Christians presenting to the emperor a petition, based upon this precedent, imploring him to destroy by force the Pagan worship. About fifteen years later, the whole Christian Church was prepared, on the same grounds, to support the persecuting policy of St. Ambrose, the contending sects having found, in the duty of crushing religious liberty, the solitary tenet on which they were agreed. The most unaggressive and unobtrusive forms of Paganism were persecuted with the same ferocity. To offer a sacrifice was to commit a capital offence; to hang up a simple chaplet was to incur the forfeiture of an estate. The noblest works of Asiatic architecture and of Greek sculpture perished by the same iconoclasm that shattered the humble temple at which the peasant loved to pray, or the household gods which consecrated his home. There were no varieties of belief too minute for the new intolerance to embitter. The question of the proper time of celebrating Easter was believed to involve the issue of salvation or damnation ; 6 and when, long after, in the fourteenth century,
Cyprian, Ep. lxi.
almost the unanimous applause of 2. Milman, Hist. of Christianity, the Christian world.” — Milman's vol. ii. p. 306.
Hist. of Christianity, vol. iii.
159. 3 Ibid. iii. 10.
5 See the Theodosian laws of * By this time the Old Testa- Paganism. ment language and sentiment with * This appears from the whole regard to idolatry were completely history of the controversy ; but the incorporated with the Christian prevailing feeling is, I think, exfeeling; and when Ambrose en- pressed with peculiar vividness in forced on a Christian Emperor the the following passage :— Eadmer sacred duty of intolerance against says (following the words of Bede) opinions and practices which in Colman's times there was a sharp scarcely a century before had been controversy about the observing of the established religion of the Easter, and other rules of life for Empire, his zeal was supported by churchmen; therefore, this ques
the question of the nature of the light at the transfiguration was discussed at Constantinople, those who refused to admit that that light was uncreated, were deprived of the honours of Christian burial.1
Together with these legislative and ecclesiastical measures, a literature arose surpassing in its mendacious ferocity any other the world had known. The polemical writers habitually painted as dæmons those who diverged from the orthodox belief, gloated with a vindictive piety over the sufferings of the heretic upon earth, as upon a Divine punishment, and sometimes, with an almost superhuman malice, passing in imagination beyond the threshold of the grave, exulted in no ambiguous terms on the tortures which they believed to be reserved for him for ever. A few men, such as Synesius, Basil, or Salvian, might still find some excellence in Pagans or heretics, but their candour was altogether exceptional ; and he who will compare the beautiful pictures the Greek poets gave of their Trojan adversaries, or the Roman historians of the enemies of their country, with those which ecclesiastical writers, for many centuries, almost invariably gave of all who were opposed to their Church, may easily estimate the extent to which cosmopolitan sympathy had retrograded.
At the period, however, when the Western monasteries began to discharge their intellectual functions, the supremacy of Catholicism was nearly established, and polemical ardour had begun to wane. The literary zeal of the Church took other forms, but all were deeply tinged by the monastic spirit. It is difficult or impossible to conceive what would have been the intellectual future of the world had Catholicism never arisen—what principles or impulses would have guided the course of the human mind, or what new institutions
tion deservedly excited the minds run, or had run in vain.-King's and feeling of many people, fearing Hist. of the Church of Ireland, book lest, perhaps, after having received ii. ch. vi. the name of Christians, they should Gibbon, chap. lxiii.
would have been created for its culture. Under the influence of Catholicism, the monastery became the one sphere of intellectual labour, and it continued during many centuries to occupy that position. Without entering into anything resembling a literary history, which would be foreign to the objects of the present work, I shall endeavour briefly to estimate the manner in which it discharged its functions.
The first idea that is naturally suggested by the mention of the intellectual services of monasteries is the preservation of the writings of the Pagans. I have already observed that among the early Christians there was a marked difference on the subject of their writings. The school which was represented by Tertullian regarded them with abhorrence; while the Platonists, who were represented by Justin Martyr, Clement of Alexandria, and Origen, not merely recogni with great cordiality their beauties, but even imagined that they could detect in them both the traces of an original Divine inspiration, and plagiarisms from the Jewish writings. While avoiding, for the most part, these extremes, St. Augustine, the great organiser of Western Christianity, treats the Pagan writings with appreciative respect. He had himself ascribed his first conversion from a course of vice to the • Hortensius' of Cicero, and his works are full of discriminating, and often very beautiful, applications of the old Roman literature. The attempt of Julian to prevent the Christians from teaching the classics, and the extreme resentment which that attempt elicited, show how highly the Christian leaders of that period valued this form of education; and it was naturally the more cherished on account of the contest. The influence of Neoplatonism, the baptism of multitudes of nominal Christians after Constantine, and the decline of zeal which necessarily accompanied prosperity, had all in different ways the same tendency. In Synesius we have the curious phenomenon of a bishop who, not content with proclaiming himself the admiring friend of the
Pagan Hypatia, openly declared his complete disbelief in the resurrection of the body, and his firm adhesion to the Platonic doctrine of the pre-existence of souls." Had the ecclesiastical theory prevailed which gave such latitude even to the leaders of the Church, the course of Christianity would have been very different. A reactionary spirit, however, arose at Rome. The doctrine of exclusive salvation supplied its intellectual basis ; the political and organising genius of the Roman ecclesiastics impelled them to reduce belief into a rigid form; the genius of St. Gregory guided the movement, and a series of historical events, of which the ecclesiastical and political separation of the Western empire from the speculative Greeks, and the invasion and conversion of the barbarians, were the most important, definitely established the ascendancy of the Catholic type. In the convulsions that followed the barbarian invasions, intellectual energy of a secular kind almost absolutely ceased. A parting gleam issued, indeed, in the sixth century, from the Court of Theodoric, at Ravenna, which was adorned by the genius of
An interesting sketch of this ciently manifested in his famous very interesting prelate has lately and very curious letter to Desidebeen written by M. Druon, Étude rius, Bishop of Vienne, rebuking sur la Vie et les Euvres de Syné- him for having taught certain persius (Paris, 1859).
sons Pagan literature, and thus 2 Tradition has pronounced Gre- mingled 'the praises of Jupiter gory the Great to have been the with the praises of Christ;' doing destroyer of the Palatine library, what would be impious even for a and to have been especially zealous religious layman, polluting the in burning the writings of Livy, mind with the blasphemous praises because they described the achieve- of the wicked.' Some curious eviments of the Pagan gods. For dence of the feelings of the Christhese charges, however (which I tians of the fourth, fifth, and sixth am sorry to find repeated by so centuries, about Pagan literature, eminent a writer as Dr. Draper), is given in Guinguené, Hist. littéthere is no real evidence, for they raire de l'Italie, tome i. p. 29–31, are not found in any writer earlier and some legends of a later period than the twelfth century. (See are candidly related by one of the Bayle, Dict. art. . Greg.') The ex- most enthusiastic English advocates treme contempt of Gregory for of the Middle Ages. (Maitland, Pagan literature is, however, suffi- Dark Ages.)